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Year-end update from the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy—Canada

“Volunteering and making my own gift to the Foundation is my way of helping my colleagues,” says Karen Mercier, CFRE, about her role as inaugural chair of the Communications Committee for the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy—Canada.

“Fundraisers are involved in what can sometimes be difficult and draining work.  The Foundation is a way for us to support professional development, especially for people working in organizations that have no professional development resources.”

She sees the Communication Committee’s priority as helping people understand the impact of the Foundation’s work and why it exists.

The AFP Foundation for Philanthropy - Canada was created in 1998 to help advance philanthropy through education and training of fundraisers in Canada.

“As fundraisers, we know the impact a donation can make, but we are focused on our individual work in our individual organizations. The Foundation allows us to fund access to professional development opportunities, research into areas of work, and investment in local AFP Chapters across the sector.

The Foundation has awarded $18,000 in scholarships in 2019, to help fundraisers pursue key continuing education opportunities across North America.

As part of its research program this year, the Foundation also released The Leadership Report by Mikhael Bornstein, MA, CFRE, which looked into “how sector employees perceive their leaders, how leadership style impacts their career choices and how it might affect fundraising costs.”  Research around innovative practices in relationships with women donors is due for release in 2020.

In addition, the Foundation wrapped up its third cohort of the Diversity and Inclusion Fellowship Program in 2019 and will be reflecting on how to best move forward with this priority.

“We think the Diversity and Inclusion Fellowship Program has been successful,” says Mercier. “We want to look at what’s been achieved and how to move forward, to consistently change and evolve. That’s the focus for 2020.”

As the Foundation’s largest individual campaign, the Every Member Campaign has raised about $110,000 so far from almost 700 donors, which represents 77% of its 2019 goal.

“The campaign is about the work we do,” Mercier says.

“It is in the nature of fundraisers to want to do more, give more, achieve more. Some people give because they have once benefitted from a program. Others feel they want to support the profession.”

Investing more funds in research remains a priority. “We are a large economic sector—larger than the auto sector, oil and gas and manufacturing sectors. Yet we know so little about sector dynamics.”

The Foundation also receives far more requests for funding than it can fulfill. In the 2019 Scholarship Program, for example, it received 100 requests for the 18 scholarships available.

“Our work with AFP Chapters is also important, so they can deliver local projects and services,” Mercier adds, “as is our work with diversity and inclusion. We want to be able to fund these initiatives.” 

The Foundation’s average annual operating budget is about $250,000 with members contributing half of that. Member support is supplemented by revenue from government grants, special project funding and sponsorship.

“If I could say one thing to all members right now, it is that I encourage them to make a gift to their profession,” says Mercier.

“In a lot of ways, fundraising is a calling. I’ve been able to see the impact of the Foundation’s work, so I feel great about making a monthly gift and planning a gift in my will. But I didn’t come to that overnight. I made my first gift and then became more aware of the impact. I invite people to do the same.”

To make a gift to AFP Foundation for Philanthropy—Canada, click here.

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